In this Footnote interview, hosted by Maggie LaMonica, Jill Carroll discusses her book A Dialogue of Civilizations and her inspiration behind it, Fethullah Gulen.
Carroll is fascinated with Gulen’s teachings and the Hizmet movement and finds herself “very impressed with his ideas.” His teachings helped her categorize her book into five different themes and their subsequent chapters, which are stated below. Professor Carroll believes that Gulen has philosophies that coincide with well-known philosophers like Confucius, Socrates, and Kant.
After examining Gulen and his teachings, Carroll talks about her book which she separated into five different chapters that are also the five main themes.The first theme being that “every human being has inherent dignity and moral worth.” Carroll states that when every person realizes that they are not worth more or less than any other person, a peaceful society can be created.
The second chapter or theme is “freedom of thought” and without the freedom to think, there will be no wisdom. Carroll claims that a society will not endure if it suppresses people’s rights to think and speak freely.
Virtue is the third theme of A Dialogue of Civilizations. Professor Carroll clarifies that she is not just referring to a morally virtuous person but also a person of excellence, and that is the best type of human philosophers and intellectuals can hope for. In order to discover such an honorable person, Carroll states that education is the next important theme so that one may instill the characteristics and morals of the an ideal person for future generations.
The final theme of Carroll’s book is responsibility, meaning that humans, and humans alone are the ones responsible for making the world a better place. Professor Carroll affirms that according to Gulen’s perspective, “God has made us responsible for the world.”
Professor Carroll and LaMonica end the interview with a few final remarks about her book, Fethullah Gulen’s teachings, and the responsibility of every person to build connections with one another in order to improve our world.